ORLANDO, Fla. – One Orlando couple is debuting a new Halloween-inspired event, incorporating a Mexican tradition.
Set up is underway for the new Happy Frights and Haunting Nights event at Leu Gardens in Orlando. Large props are going up with 12 immersive Halloween-themed worlds throughout the historic gardens.
Creative City Project Director Cole Nesmith and his husband Ramon Bermudez are setting up a special attraction, El Día de Muertos.
It means “Day of the Dead” in Spanish, a holiday widely celebrated in Mexico.
“We wanted to celebrate the holiday for what it is, which is a remembering of those who have passed,” Cole said.
“It’s meaningful and very emotional. I love remembering the people who are no longer with us and having special days to celebrate and never forget them,” Ramon said.
Cole met his husband, Ramon, in Mexico. They are incorporating traditions from both families into their work and passion, creating immersive events that are out of this world.
“If this [relationship] is going to work, it will be me bringing my culture and traditions to this new family and creating something unique and meaning for both of us,” Ramon said.
Happy Frights and Haunting Nights event features the Día de Muertos attraction, where visitors will be able to meet La Catrina.
Large Calaveras, meaning “skulls” are the focal points. They’re colorfully decorated and one of the most recognizable cultural elements of the Day of the Dead festivities, bringing back memories from home for Ramon.
“We have festivals throughout the cities and one special thing is that you create an alter in a lovely place in your home and surround it with the favorite things of the ones you’re honoring, like favorite music and food. Photos, candles and flowers,” Ramon said.
Ramon said he is honoring his uncle, Gerardo, who died young.
“I always find myself listening to the music he loved, thinking of the great adventures we had together. He was into hiking and extreme sports,” Ramon said.
“Día de Muertos is ultimately about family and the people that we love and people who have passed and people who are still alive. It’s a great opportunity to learn more about the people in Ramon’s life,” Cole said.
The two are also adding a Mexican dessert to the events menu.
“Food is obviously a part of Mexican culture that I love, so we were talking about the food that’s going to be here and we thought churros. When I went to Mexico City and visited Ramon and we got churros there and I said, ‘I’d love to have this with ice cream’ and he’s like, ‘you don’t eat churros with ice cream... that’s an American thing,’” Cole said.
Ramon said after trying the combination, he liked it and the dessert will be offered at the Halloween event.
Happy Frights and Haunting Nights kick off Sept. 29 and runs through Oct. 31.
Happy Frights is a trick-or-treat adventure in the early evening for the young ones. A fun, family-friendly Halloween adventure featuring immersive worlds, live characters, food and trick-or-treating.
Gather the entire family and enter into exciting immersive worlds throughout Orlando’s Leu Gardens.
- Meet a dancing bridge-troll
- Explore a neon-light maze
- Walk through a garden of sunflowers
- Climb up a giant hay-pyramid
- Journey through a ghost-pirate zone
- Celebrate Día de Muertos
- and so much more, all while visiting eight trick-or-treat stations along the way!
Haunting Nights begins when the sun goes down with 12 immersive Halloween-themed worlds throughout Leu Gardens. There are some frightening surprises.
- Welcomed by a 10-foot-tall jack-o-lantern.
- Make your way past the bridge troll and into the forest of eyes.
- Walk through a garden of sunflowers.
- Journey through a neon-light maze.
- Climb up a giant hay pyramid.
- Meet La Catrina in our Día de Muertos world
- and so much more, all accompanied by fantastic fall food and drink!
Haunting Nights includes a few jump-scares, but Cole said you’ll be able to handle it. This event is recommended for guests 13 and up.
If you’d like to participate in El Día de Muertos, Creative City Project is building a large alter for the attraction where visitors can write messages and post photos to honor loved ones who have passed.
Tickets start at $25 and there is paid parking for the event.
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